Like so many places across the country, the past several months have been challenging and unpredictable for our community. That’s why we wanted to do something special to spotlight the amazing people that make up our unique district.
Faces Of East Midtown is photo and interview series aimed at celebrating the humanity of our neighborhood and providing a real, raw and honest look at the faces behind the locally-owned businesses that have gone through unimaginable changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
September 23, 2020
Photography by Ron Jautz, Jautz Photography
EMP: Tell us about your business or place of work. When did you originally open or start and what was your vision
David Hanouna: Modani Furniture was founded in Miami in 2007 by three entrepreneurs with an affinity for design. The concept of selling modern furniture at friendly prices both in-store and online is what helped shape the successful brand and is something that we all take pride in today. I joined the team in New York with previous experience in real estate, art, and sales. Currently Modani has 19 stores in key cities and states, which gives national coverage and allows for organic growth. We are excited about the future of the company as we look for new markets and find new ways to engage with our current customers.
EMP: Give us an overview of what things have been like for you and your staff during the Covid-19 lockdown.
DH: As soon as the lockdown occurred, we had to implement some changes and adapt the overall work environment. Some employees remained working from home while others waited patiently, shuttered, to see when the office would reopen. The lockdown was stressful for all of us. It's extremely frustrating to rework a business model that was in glowing shape up until the pandemic, but that is what we did. We took the time to rework our office structure to allow for more at home work. Taking a step back during the pandemic also allowed us to figure out what is working and what improvements can be made. Sometimes being so close to the business you can't have a minute to evaluate all needs. The lockdown was stressful but we are excited to be in business and make new strides for 2021.
EMP: When did you reopen, and how did/does it feel to reopen your doors to the district?
DH: We reopened our doors around mid-June, but we weren’t fully operational until July. It feels great to be back open and to be working with our staff members and in-store shoppers again. We love interacting with our customers so the hardest part was not being able to consult with them as usual. Now that the doors are open, all of us are feeling grateful and ready to get back to it!
EMP: After being shuttered for months, several more businesses are slowly starting to reopen in the district. What does that mean to you?
DH: We never like to see businesses closing down. COVID -19 has brought some challenges to businesses that we have never experienced before. While we are grateful to remain in business, our hearts go out to those who have closed for good. The reopening of businesses is something we can't wait to see. For us, opening means a new opportunity to grow as a business while also helping the community rebuild. We are grateful for our customers loyalty during these hard times and we are excited for what the future holds.
EMP: What's one thing you've either learned, grown to appreciate or adjusted in your business practices moving forward as a result of the pandemic?
DH: One thing we’ve learned during the pandemic is how important it is to be adaptable. When we had to close our office doors, we didn't take it as a sign to close down for good, but rather to restructure. We have also grown to appreciate our in-store customer service experience a lot more. Not being able to work with our customers first hand was challenging and we are now so eager to help them start designing! The pandemic has brought out a lot of emotions and has taught us a lot about the business, but we are so grateful to be able to learn from this experience and continue to progress forward.
EMP: What is your hope for the future of your industry in the city in the coming months?
DH: We hope to see more people moving into the city and to see more infrastructure being built. New movers to us means a new market along with an indication that the city is beginning to recover. We hope that in the next few months the city can get into a place of rebuilding and laying the foundation for prosperity.